14 Sep What Makes a Trip to Tokyo Japanese!
What do you get when you put spontaneity and a man who loves Japanese food together?
That’s right – a holiday to Tokyo!
H decided on a random weekday night that he wanted to head to Tokyo. He frequents Tokyo a lot more than I do, and he loves it there. Fantastic food, incredible sights and friends always make a destination welcoming. Booked the tickets and our Airbnb and a month later, off we went to Tokyo!
Tokyo is a very popular destination, especially for Singapore tourists. I’ve noticed this on my social media the weeks before we departed. Plus H has friends that can bring us around!
We were running on a pretty tight schedule, in on a Thursday afternoon and out on a Monday evening. The last time I visited Tokyo was 9 years ago as a stopover to the States. So I was pretty excited to be a tourist again.
You know how when you go on a holiday, there are certain things that you just HAVE to do? Like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris, walking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, having delicious Thai food in Thailand, basically try to experience most of the city in the time you have and let the city win you over?
Every time I go on a holiday, there are different parts of my trip that make me fall in love with traveling all over again. In some places, the dreamy apartments inspire me. In other places, having local food makes me feel like I’m one of them.
So in Tokyo, we did some things that Japan is known for and made my Japan holiday well… Japanese!
1. Stay in a Tiny Apartment
Apartments in Japan are known to be tiny. And because it was a last minute trip, we weren’t left with very many options left that was within our budget. A spacious apartment in the city area would have been nice but after scouring Airbnb, we realised that most of the 1 bedroom apartments in Shinjuku/Shibuya/Ebisu area were all about the same tiny size. (Even the hosts admitted on their listings that their apartment size is what you’d expect in Japan – small but cosy!)
We eventually chose one that was at the Ebisu district, mainly because of the location and the place looked decent enough. Plus we weren’t planning on hanging out in the apartment all day, just needed a comfy bed and a clean toilet.
(We sound super low maintenance but we’re not LOL we just pick and choose where to spend our money.)
That’s as far back as I could go in the toilet.
One thing that I noticed was that most Japanese toilets look the same. Most of the listings I looked through all had the same standing tub shower area (I’m not sure if there’s a name for that?), a sink and the toilet bowl. Fancy interior designs are not common, plain and simple does the job.
Not many photos of the room because honestly, what you see is what you get. After laying out two medium sized luggage closed on the floor, in front of the sink, we barely had space to walk around. However, the bed was comfortable and the room was clean.
The major win for this apartment was the LOCATION! Cafes, restaurants and convenience stores lined the streets the moment we walked out. It was a 5-minute walk to Ebisu Station, which took us to Shinjuku station in 1 stop.
Tiny japanese apartment – checked!
2. (Try to) Take Nice Photos of Cherry Blossoms
I’ve never seen cherry blossoms before in my life. Never. We found out that we might miss it by the time we get there. Boo.
Lucky for us the weather held up!
I had really high expectations of what those pretty pink flowers will look like because I’ve always only seen them in photos. But what I learnt was that they’re not always that pink. The pink-ness is dependent on the variety of cherry tree and the time you catch them during the bloom. Some of them are white when they start blooming and pinker over the next couple of days.
Being no botanist, I didn’t try to identify the the cherry trees. I was just elated to see cherry blossoms hehe
BUT! (There is always a but, isn’t there?)
Unfortunately, not all of them are as pink as we’d like. Some have a tinge of pink and some are white. Before you get disappointed, I did manage to get some nice photos at the end of the trip!
It’s all a matter of perspective and how you take your photos. I’m not a professional photographer and for me it’s trial and error sometimes, especially when it is a tricky shot or subject. I still struggle with taking photos when there isn’t sufficient light.
The first bunch we saw weren’t super pink, so I was a bit bummed about that. As any tourist would do, I wanted to try and snap some photos anyway.
Look at the difference!
This was our walk from the apartment at Ebisu towards Naka-Meguro Station. . You can walk along river to Nakameguro Park. It was evening time when we arrived so the night photos turned out to be dark and the cherry blossoms looked washed out with only a very slight tinge of pink. We decided to return the next day when it was sunny and look at the difference in the colour!
The close up shots manage to capture the colour a lot better as well!
Profile shots worked really well as well. Even though there is a high depth of field, the pink of the cherry trees blurred out background in still quite obvious!
We also traveled to the Tokyo Imperial Palace because Chidorigafuchi Park was highly recommended online. Unfortunately we didn’t check opening hours so the palace was closed – silly us. As we walked along the perimeter of the palace, we noticed there were sparse cherry blossom trees.
Doesn’t look too picturesque, does it?
Used that gap in the branches to frame the palace in the background.
We started fiddling around with the camera and found good angles. I really like how the pink pops in these 2 photos. If I didn’t tell you, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that this was from the same lonely tree in the first photo outside the palace.
So don’t despair if you don’t see something you like to snap right away, we aren’t all professional photographers anyway. Play around with the angles and settings on your camera and who knows? You might find a something worth snapping. We made it our personal mission and had loads of fun in the process!
(Trying to) take nice photos of cherry blossoms – checked!
3. Harry Hedgehog and Bunny Cafe
Cat Cafes and Dog Cafes are all the rage now, but when I first came across the Hedgehog cafe online, I told H, “WE HAVE TO GO”. He was less than pleased so I had to drag him there. I visited the website because I wanted to check the fees and how to get there!
The nearest subway station is Roppongi station – Hibiya Line, Exit No. 3, which is not far from the Shibuya area.
Slots can be booked on their website up to 2 months in advance. It is not absolutely necessary to make a reservation but slots are on a first come first served basis. But if you know me, of course I’m making a reservation! It costs ¥2800 (~SGD34.34) an hour per person. Walk-ins come in 30-minute slots. No payment will be collected through the website.
If you need any assistance with modifying your reservation or have any questions, you can either Facebook message them or fill up a contact form on their website!
Now to the fun part!
We showed up about an hour early so we thought we’d try our luck and see if they could shift us one slot up. Unfortunately the hour before was full too so… I’d recommend you make a reservation as they are pretty strict with their slots!
We had a cubby hole to ourselves with 2 hedgehogs to play with. As you can tell, the store was filled with people. This is the reason why reservations are important! This is so they can allocate their hedgehogs to make sure that we didn’t have to fight over them! Also, these superstars need to rest. The hedgehogs must be tired from getting fondled by humans all day long.
Our two little friends started to get sleepy and grumpy – but still cute!
You can buy dishes of mealworms to feed them. Drinks at the cafe are self-service. The selection includes coffee & tea.
This experience was quite life changing I must say. They are sooo adorable, even when they get sleepy and grumpy (sounds a little like H when he gets out of bed heh). Even H was gushing over how cute the hedgehogs are, which got him weird stares from his friends. A one hour slot was more than enough for us as we started to get restless towards the last 10 minutes.
So is this worth the hype? I say yes! (Unless you already own a hedgehog.) It’s not everyday you get to have 2 hedgehogs all to yourself. Plus because reservations can be made in advance, there is no need to worry about the queue and overcrowding.
So if anyone asks me next time, I get to say “Yes! They really are prickly!”
You can find them @:
Address: Tokyo, Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-7-2 IWAHORI Building 2F
Opening Hours: 1200hrs – 2000hrs daily
4. Chasing Good Food
Having good food in Tokyo is a no brainer. The city is filled with a huge array of restaurants and cafe that you’ll be spoilt for choice. When you think Tokyo, you immediately think onigiri, ramen, omakase meals, cafes and the list goes on! And where better to have Japanese food than in Japan!
If you’ve read my About page, you’d know that I love cities and coffee. So of course we visited some cafes, had our fair share of Japanese food and not forgetting dessert.
(“There’s always space for dessert” is a lie, but I choose to believe any way, then suffer later.)
There is so much to eat in Tokyo that one post just won’t be enough! I wouldn’t do the food that I’ve enjoyed any justice because they deserve a whole post on their own so keep your eyes peels for my yummy tummy adventures in my next post!
If you’re a city person, you will definitely enjoy Tokyo as much as I did. These are just snippets of my entire trip which I really enjoyed. Hit me up if you’ve enjoyed anything else in Tokyo!